Remittances from migrants to home countries can drive development – UN official

Amb. Chowdhury

4 July 2006 – Remittances from migrants to their home countries have great potential to foster economic development, a senior United Nations official told the press today in Geneva.

“The volume of these remittances is enormous,” said Anwarul K. Chowdhury, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. “In 2005, the developing countries received $173 billion in terms of migrant worker remittances. And this is only the official, formal flow of resources. If we take into account the informal flow, the amount will be almost double.”

The remittances had the potential to be an important source of development finance, said Mr. Chowdhury, especially for the poorest countries of the world. The 50 LDCs received as much as $411 billion in remittances each year. In some of the smaller LDCs, such as island states like Cape Verde or small landlocked countries like Lesotho, remittances contributed nearly one third of their gross domestic product (GDP).

Launching the report of the Ministerial Conference of the LDCs on enhancing the development impact of remittances, held in Cotonou, Benin, Mr. Chowdhury said one proposal that emerged from that gathering was to establish an observatory that would serve as a storehouse of information on remittances and on best practices while providing opportunities for networking.

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